Traditional methods, contemporary topics

Honorable Mention - Personality Profile
2014 Collegiate Keystone Press Awards

Erin Riley was browsing through an online forum when she came across a video that stirred something inside of her.

“It was these two people on a road and then a car comes by and it crashes,” said Riley, a Philadelphia-based artist. “You can tell there’s more people around and they’re all camera-phoning the accident, but there’s humans inside of this car and no one’s doing anything. I think it made me realize that so much of how we live is behind a screen and when something is right in front of us we can’t break from that.”

Combining traditional methods of weaving while depicting modern situations, Riley uses her art to tell the stories of young people, specifically women, by highlighting the little moments. Not only do the pieces display intimate moments, but creating them is also an intimate process with pieces taking anywhere from 40 to 80 hours to complete, not including prep work.

“It’s what a weaver would make if they were 27 years old and grew up on the Internet,” Riley said. “There’s always this conversation of, ‘why are you a weaver?’ I think my work is two-dimensional, it could be referred to as paintings, but the weaving part of it is just how I’ve connected to make it work.”

Hickeys, bong hits, selfies and used condoms are among some of the subjects Riley showcases in her work.

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Art explored across borders, mediums

In the Mexican state of Michoacán in a third-grade art class, an 8-year-old Gustavo Garcia was told to cut an animal-shaped bottle in half and then pour plaster into the makeshift mold. This was Garcia’s first foray into the art world.

“That’s how I learned mold making, before I even knew what mold making was,” Garcia, a senior printmaking major, said.

Two years later, for another project, Garcia was instructed to pour plaster into a shoebox, then carve shapes into it and paint into the carving. Although the fifth-grade Garcia didn’t know it, he was doing a technique called “secco.”

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